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Business And Culture: Sex Toys In India Are Changing The Market

Not just women, but people all over India, of all ages, are asking for better choices when it comes to sexual expression, she says

Wednesday September 11, 2019 8:02 PM, ummid.com News Network

Sex Toys and Indian Woman

[As the country plants itself on the map of booming global business, social acceptance of sex toys in India are helping businesswomen take on the role in unexpected ways. (Image for representation purpose only)]

India has struggled with their sexual identities for centuries. From being one of the foremost authorities on the sanctity of sexual expression, followed by a strictly tight-lipped puritanical culture, enforced heavily by British rule has led the country to be in a state of confusion, at odds with contemporary societies around the world.

A historically patriarchal society, that’s well connected and a force in modern markets, India is now under pressure to conform to westernized views on sexual norms. That pressure doesn’t come from outside, however, but from the citizens themselves, tired of constantly explaining away rebukes about their culture, specifically when it comes to foreign partnerships.

“As a businesswoman in India, you come up against many assumptions about your culture that are patently untrue”, says Ashi Pundalhi, a marketing executive who works closely with firms both in, and outside of India.

“It was frustrating at first, but now it is just laborsome”, she adds.

Ashi is one of a new wave of Indian women who are hoping to change the way the people from all over the world think about their sexuality and gender roles; hoping to fight stereotypes that are as pervasive as the potholes in Uttar Pradesh.

The Sex Toy Revolution

“It isn’t just about sex and gender roles,” Ashi says. “It is also this idea that our country is so reserved that we couldn’t possibly understand how to be bullish in business.”

Ashi fights these common misconceptions throughout her work week but says the biggest fight of all happens right in her own community.

“Not just women, but people all over India, of all ages, are asking for better choices when it comes to sexual expression”, she says. To which Ashi believes is a key element in fighting oppression. “I truly believe that sex toys are starting to open up a conversation for India, and that conversation is changing the way we think and behave.”

More and more Indians are looking online to find sex toys, with companies like Adult Products India, and newfound confidence, both inside and outside of the bedroom.

“It’s not owning a vibrator that makes me business savvy”, she says, “But being able to have a frank and mature conversation about sex that is changing the way the world views Indian women.”

Sex toys, education, and open conversation have created an avenue for women like Ashi to fight back against patriarchal gender norms and all too common stereotypes.

The sexual revolution is breaking boundaries of culture, with television series, podcasts, and adult products like vibrators, bringing sexual expression to the forefront of Indian minds. “It’s changing the way people see us. It’s changing the way we see ourselves.” Ashi admits.

Developing Dialogue

Recently, the BBC released a six episode podcast, Brown Girls Do It Too, in response to frustrations felt by other Asian women abroad, echoing the sentiments of Ashi. In an interview with the podcasts three hosts, the women talk about the knife edge that Indian women must walk along even when living abroad. But taking it all a step further, reminding us all that it isn’t just about confidence and ownership, but also about desire and happiness.

In a country where, as little as ten years ago, it was almost impossible to get a sex toy that wasn’t from the produce aisle, the podcast reminds Indian women and young people that they are indeed sexual beings - and that is perfectly okay. Where one host quips “[Indian women are] flawed, horny sex pests just like everyone else.”

The hosts continue to talk about the real struggles that Indian women face when being constantly confronted by cultural misinformation, both in business and everyday life.

“There’s this idea that all brown women are timid, modest, humble. [We] are not those things”, one says.

Fighting stereotypes of this nature is one way that women are continuing to find a leg up in business.

“When people assume we have no sexual identity, that we are weak or victimized, it is impossible for them to take us seriously in business”, Ashi says adding, “Where they are either walking on eggshells, or thinking we couldn’t possibly contend in a ‘boys club’.”

Perhaps step one of creating such a powerful identity is changing norms and expectations of all age groups and affiliations which is where sex toys are really stepping in.

As norms are changing, aging populations find themselves better equipped to have these incredibly important conversations with their children, allowing younger generations better access to safe and accurate information and education.

“Exploring sensuality is a very personal thing. Sexual expression through masturbation is so incredibly normal and important if we expect to be able to understand ourselves and accept others”, Ashi firmly tells us.

“And being armed with that knowledge [at a young age] makes it much easier to get others to understand and accept us”, she says.

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